Saturday, December 13, 2014

X-Mode Energy Shots On Tap Review

X-Mode Energy is definitely something new and unique. The idea behind it is that you buy a box of this energy blend and you dispense and consume as much caffeine as you want. The box comes with a shot glass and a portable container resembling a chubby energy shot bottle.

This product is definitely not for everyone, but I know many people who prefer taking energy shots or drinking energy drinks to pure coffee. Some of these people buy cases from bulk stores so X-Mode is definitely a product that will appeal to them and helps with their needs. A small subscription box of X-Mode will set you back $30 for which you get 100 ounces. If you do the math, each shot will cost you $0.30. If you don't need a subscription, you can buy a single box for $40 which also has 100 servings.

An opened box of X-Mode will last around 180 days so even if you do not drink energy shots on a daily basis, $40 has your caffeine needs covered for 6 months. That's $6.67 on caffeine per month. This is a great deal in my opinion....but only if you actually take energy shots regularly or at least twice per month.

OK, so now that we have gotten the numbers out of the way, the next question is - how does it taste?


First off, if you are wondering, the liquid inside the box is pale pink. The aroma is that of cherries with a slight cough syrup note. The shot also tastes like cherries - sour at the start and sweet at the finish. The initial sourness is refreshing and helps get the shot down, while the finish gives you a long-lasting sweet cherry finish that hides any unwanted flavors from the active ingredients very well....except for a little tiny amount of bitterness you get right after you swallow the shot.

The cherry flavor is very well done, but I do have one big complaint about the taste - I find the finish way too sweet. Now, I only found it too sweet because I was sipping on the shot very slowly at first to dissect it. Each tiny sip elevated the sweetness to the point where it felt like I had just consumed some cherry flavored cough syrup. Later shots I consumed in a large gulp so this sweetness wasn't bad, but I need to caution you if you like to sip on your shots.

Once I had the shot, the makers of X-Mode suggested I tried it with club soda. Genius!!! I have been writing about energy products for 5 years now I have never thought about putting an energy shot into a glass of club soda or water or juice, or anything, to make it into an energy drink! I can't believe how obvious this was.

Well, how does it taste with club soda - SOO GOOOD. You see, the sweetness is cut back so much that the energy cocktail is like Vitamin Water. There is just enough flavor to get you to drink it, but not too much that your palate is saturated. I am going to have to start doing this with other energy shots.


The taste is way better than I expected, especially for a bulk product like this, but the beauty of X-Mode is in the energy delivery. Each ounce, or shot, contains 150 mg of caffeine. For comparison, a 2 ounce bottle of 5 Hour Energy contains 200 mg, which means that each ounce of 5 Hour Energy contains only 100 mg of caffeine.

Caffeine content is one thing, but what I judge energy products on is the delivery of this energy. X-Mode surprised me with its smooth delivery. To fully test X-Mode, I had only a few hours of sleep (just can't sleep on weekends, I am way too excited to have some free time) when I had my first shot. The sourness of the shot pepped me up instantly and I felt my mind clear up and focus within 10 minutes of taking my first sip. After another 15-20 minutes I felt the effects of the caffeine with very minor jitters. I was actually able to stay seated and focused at my desk and write this review. Sure, underneath it all I felt like I could explode with energy and run around the block, but 1 ounce of X-Mode got me to just the right point for me. If I had some physical work to do, I would probably go with 2 ounces, but 1 ounce did the trick for me. The effects wore off after 3-4 hours (the 1 ounce effects) without a crash or any other negative side effect.

I didn't expect much from a boxed energy shot mixture, but to be perfectly honest, I was pleasantly surprised - it financially makes sense to get one of these if you consume energy shots on a regular basis, this stuff tastes better and works better than most single serving energy shots. Genius idea.

Cost - $30 for 100 oz subscription, $40 for a single box from X-Mode
Taste - 7.9/10
Energy - 8/10 to 10/10

Overall - 15.9/20 to 17.9/20...great price, great taste and damn good energy kick

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Realtree Outdoor Energy Xtra Citrus Energy Drink Review

I bought this one along with all the other Realtree energy drinks a few months ago from the US, but this guy was hiding at the back of the fridge until now.


Xtra Citrus tastes like a Mountain Dew...almost. For the first moment or so it is Mountain Dew, but a moment after you get a lime note which bumps the overall taste up a notch and gives it a very refreshing character. However, then comes the sweet and sticky aftertaste which carries a messy melange of citrus notes making this flavor very generic. On the plus side, once the sweetness dies down, the lime notes re-emerge and linger for a while giving the drink a very refreshing and moderately long-lasting confused here.


Like all the other Realtree energy drinks (Arctic Ice and Blaze Orange), this can contains 160 mg of caffeine and the energy comes in quickly with a dose of jitters and lasts for a few hours. 

Cost - $3 from WalMart
Taste - 6.5/10
Energy - 8/10

Overall - 14.5/20...almost too generic citrus taste with a decent but rough kick

Monday, December 1, 2014

Rockstar Pure Zero Mango Orange Passion Fruit Energy Drink Review

Rockstar's Pure Zero Mango Orange Passion Fruit energy drink is a zero calorie version of one of their oldest varieties - Rockstar Juiced. I really had to dig into archives of my brain to remember where this long worded "Mango Orange Passion Fruit" flavor was previously used.

Unlike other energy drink manufacturer who just add the words "zero calories" or "diet", Rockstar has gone through the effort of updating the entire package from the color theme to the new textured can, yet still retains the original framework - the star and the vertical and horizontal names.


At first all flavors come at once resulting in a messy and fruity affair. After a moment, the mango comes out on top while the orange remains behind it giving the sweet mango flavor a bit of sourness. The passion fruit is present in the finish and feels surprisingly well defined at times. Like in the original Juiced, the mango is the dominant fruit all throughout.

The start of the can feels a bit flat to me as the flavors do not truly start to emerge until a quarter of the can through. Same goes for the sweetness - not much at first but it starts to build up and I found it too sweet near the end of the can.

With the exception of the sweetener aftertaste, the Pure Zero version is very similar to the regular sugar-full Juiced.


I originally reviewed the Canadian version of Juiced in 2009 , which contained 160 mg of caffeine. The Rockstar cans currently sold in Canada also contain only 160 mg of caffeine which makes it hard to compare to this Pure Zero edition since I bought it in the US where the cans contain a significantly larger amount of caffeine - 240 mg.

The effects of this Pure Zero are similar to all other Pure Zero cans - a quick perk followed by a gradual build up over the course of 30-40 minutes. The initial boost jolts the brain while the kick that comes in later is well behaved and does not make you want to bounce off the walls for hours. The kick lasts for 3-4 hours and finishes without a crash.

What can I say - another great Rockstar product.

Cost - $2.99 from 7-11
Taste - 9/10
Energy - 8.2/10

Overall - 17,2/20...great taste, great kick

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rockstar Pure Zero Blue Ice Review

The US has officially become my source of new caffeinated drinks and shots to try. In the last couple of years only Red Bull has introduced new energy drinks to the Ontario market. And by new energy drinks I mean new flavors with the same government approved base ingredients. On the plus side I go to the US once every 2-3 months and normally come back with 4-5 new products to try and review.

This time I got a whack of new-to-me energy drinks from a Meijer gas station. This new-ish Rockstar was on a promotion and cost me $2. All hail promotions!


Blue Ice is the 3rd product I am trying that is part of the Pure Zero Rockstar line. The previous two I got from the US were the Silver Ice and Punched.

Blue Ice is..well..what you would almost expect from the word "blue" in its name - a mix of slightly sour berries with a lot of blue coloring. Well, almost. When I first opened the tab, I was very confused by the apple-ish aroma that wafted my way as well as the odd apple-scented aftertaste. This must be just a side effect of the ingredients but I thought it gives the drink a unique twist.

The actual flavor is fairly generic mix of sour raspberries and blueberries but it does have a pretty decent sweetness balance has that going for it. The aftertaste is obviously heavy on the artificial sweeteners but that's expected from a drink with the word "Zero" in its name.


This can has 240 mg of caffeine and this is what has been missing from the Canadian market - caffeine packed drinks. Are we that much more different than our neighbors down south that we can only handle some measly 140-160 mg of caffeine?

I consumed the can over the course of 40 or so minutes so the effects were gradual and just how I liked them - moderately steady build up without jitters to a point where I was energized but fed the caffeine into my system slow enough so that I didn't bounce around the room. The initial effects, however, were almost immediate and I felt fully awake within minutes of the first few sips.

The effects lasted for 3-4 hours and ended without a crash.

Cost - $2 from a Meijer gas station
Taste - 8.5/10
Energy - 8.2/10

Overall - 16.7/20...tons of caffeine and a pretty decent taste

Monday, October 13, 2014

Monster Muscle Strawberry Energy Shake

Strawberry seemed like the next logical flavor for the Monster Muscle Energy Shake line up. Go to a GNC or any other nutrition store and just look at the flavors protein powders come in. Yup...strawberry will be right up there with chocolate and vanilla.


Yup, it is strawberry. The moment you pop the tab, a strong strawberry aroma fills the air around. Each sip starts off with a sweet strawberry note and ends on a more tart, less sweet one but with a milky undertone. The aftertaste is pleasant at first but gets nasty from the milk as time goes on. I was surprised at how sweet this shake was considering that there are only 16 grams of sugar in the entire can. Unreal, but I am sure the sweetness is coming from other ingredients and sources and not just added sugar.

There isn't much else to say about the flavor. If you haven't had Monster's Muscle shakes, be aware that these drinks are very thick like a real shake and are not carbonated. Drinking one of these is like a meal on its own.


There are 158 mg of caffeine in the can and the delivery is slow like the other energy shakes, partly because of the low sugar content. I didn't start to experience the initial effects until 15-20 minutes after I quickly consumed the first half of the can.

After another 10-15 minutes I was feeling well energized and felt even focused for 5 or so minutes. The energy effects lasted for a few hours and I came down without a crash at the end. The energy performance is pretty damn good for a shake.

Cost - $2 from WalMart
Taste - 8.2/10
Energy - 8.1/10

Overall - 16.3/20...I kinda like the strawberry flavored muscle shake

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Zest Tea Energy Blends Review

Just a few days ago I got a package from Zest Tea with a variety of tea flavors as shown in the photo. Zest Tea makes and sells a variety of loose leaf tea blends in biodegradable pyramid bags. Wait, wait, wait...why am I reviewing tea on this blog? Because the teas from Zes Ttea ARE PACKED WITH CAFFEINE! Each bag of tea contains 150 to 155 mg of caffeine which is about the same as a can of Monster, or 2 Red Bulls, or more than a cop of coffee.

I know what your first question will be - "How is this possible? Tea doesn't have that much caffeine." Well, good question and I asked myself the same thing when I first got the teas. You see, Zest Tea adds caffeine to each of the tea blends for that extra boost...that's how. Simple, right?

Next thing I wondered about is if and how the added caffeine affected the taste of the tea. Caffeine in its pure form is very bitter so adding it to a drink gives it a bitter undertone. Many of the earlier energy shots suffered from this problem as it was hard to counteract the bitterness in such a small container. But with tea, you can add sugar, dilute the cup, add lemons, etc. So even if there is bitterness, you can balance it out. OK, enough of this, lets drink!


Earl Grey Black

Zest Tea's Early Grey Black is a blend of South Indian orange flower pekoe black tea, bergamot flavor and caffeine. The loose leaves are very aromatic and do smell like a fine English tea. The steeped tea also has the same fragrant aroma without any odd tones that don't belong.

The flavor? Well...delicious...No, really. I buy a lot of loose leaf earl grey tea and drink at least 2 cups of it every day at work and if you were to put Zest Tea next to a good blend of earl grey, you will not be able to tell which one packs the insane amount of first. Zest Tea does have one tell, which is the slightly dry finish which is an effect of the caffeine.

Other than the slight dry mouth, there are no bitter tones, there are no odd notes, there isn't really anything out of the ordinary and the tea itself is very good. It is way better than the pre-packaged tea you can get at the grocery store. I really, really liked this blend.

Taste - 9.7/10

Blue Lady Black

This tea is a blend of South Indian flower orange pekoe black tea, cornflower petals, hibiscus, orange, lemon, passion fruit and caffeine. The passion fruit, orange and lemon give it an incredible aroma. The moment I opened the bag, the air around me was almost instantly filled with strong fruity notes. It was fantastic

The brewed tea retains some of the fruity aromas, but the hibiscus comes out on top and is more predominant. The flavor of the steeped tea is a little bit different with the pekoe forming the dominant base and the hibiscus/orange combo forming the next most detectable layer. The orange flavor seems to be stackable because after a few sips, it starts to become the dominant flavor right before the finish.

The fruits give the tea a very, very nice finish and you are left with lingering passion fruit, lemon and orange notes. The caffeine gives it the dry mouth feel, but combined with the fruitiness, you are left with a very clean and focused aftertaste. The combination of aroma, taste and finish make this incredibly enjoyable...but I still prefer the simplicity of the Earl Grey.

Taste - 9.5/10

Pomegranate Mojito Green

The Pomegranate Mojito tea is a blend of Young Hyson Chinese tea, peppermint, pomegranate and lime flavor and caffeine. This gives the brewed tea a minty aroma with an earthy undertone. The flavor is very similar and starts off on the earthy side, but quickly transitions to a more minty and refreshing side.

At first the mint and lime notes are subtle, but after a few sips, they become strong and the dominant flavors in the finish and aftertaste. This creates a very pleasant and refreshing aftertaste which combined with the dry mouth effects from the caffeine gives the sensation of freshly brushed teeth.

Though the pomegranate is one of the main flavors, I found that it was a bit too subtle for me and didn't come out until well in the aftertaste when the earthiness and mint have subsided a bit. I frankly don't mind this since I do enjoy the earthy, mint and lime note on their own. However, those expecting a strong pomegranate flavor will be a bit disappointed.

Taste - 9.2/10

Apple Cinnamon Black

The Apple Cinnamon Black tea is a blend of South Indian flower orange pekoe black tea, cinnamon chips, apple pieces, cinnamon flavor, apple flavor and caffeine. The apple aroma is very strong from the moment you open the tin of tea to the moment you finish the tea. The cinnamon is also present and gives the tea a spicy depth and also makes you think about apple pie a bit.

The taste is a little bit different as it starts off with orange pekoe and ends on the apple/cinnamon blend, which lingers well into the aftertaste. The apple is the more dominant of the two, however, the cinnamon is the one that lingers the longest.

I loved the aroma of this tea, however, I thought that the flavor could have been stronger to really make you want to get out of the house and find an apple/cinnamon turnover or an apple pie.

Taste - 8.5/10


The delicious flavors are one thing, but since this is a caffeine blog, I have to be extra critical of the energy effects.

Since this is tea and there is no sugar (OK, I am sure there is a very tiny natural amount) I did not expect a quick jittery boost and did not get one. The effects were a bit delayed, but they started to show themselves after 1/3 of a cup and 20 minutes later.

I started to feel more alert and focused and this lasted for about 20 minutes when the caffeine started to really kick in. I was surprised how energetic I felt at first because I was drinking tea, but then I remembered that there are 150 mg of caffeine in the cup I was holding.

Once the caffeine had fully kicked in, the effects were very similar to a strong cup of coffee or a large can of energy drink, minus most of the jitters. Sure, there was still some jitters from the quantity of caffeine that was coursing through my veins, but it felt more under control. Once the jitters subsided, I felt great - I was energized and still semi-focused. These effects lasted for about 3-4 hours and there was no crash at the end. However, I was a bit sad that I didn't have any of this tea with me at work. Maybe next time I will remember to bring some.

The green tea has slightly less caffeine at around 140 mg per cup, however the effects are very similar once the caffeine has been fully absorbed. One thing I liked better about the green tea were the initial effects - there is less of the jitters.

Overall Impressions

I loved the entire line of Zest Tea Energy Blends. The teas all felt premium, tasted great and had an impressive and unexpected kick that gives energy drinks and coffee a run for their money. My favorite of the bunch was definitely the Earl Grey with the Blue Lady coming in a close second. If you like tea, but also need that caffeine kick in the morning, I strongly recommend you try Zest Tea.

Cost - $14.95 for a tin of 20
Energy - 8.7/10

Overall - from 17.2/20 to 18.4/20

P.S. Since I don't have any loose leaf tea on this blog to compare Zestea against, the scoring was done against normal tea blends.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Realtree Outdoor Energy Blaze Orange Review

I know that the can label is essentially camo, but the orange makes it really appealing to me for some reason. This is the second Realtree energy drink I have had and this one, believe or not, contains even MORE sugar than the Arctic Ice one I had earlier.


Well with a name like Blaze Orange, what do you think this energy drink tastes like? with a twist of tangerine thrown in at the end. The first couple of sips were very refreshing and felt great as the first beverage of the morning after a night of drinking. However, once the flavor settled, the sweetness came up and stuck around until the very end. Unlike Arctic Ice which was very sweet, this flavor is EXTREMELY sweet. There are 68 grams of sugar in the can, all from high fructose corn syrup. In fact it is so sweet that after a few sips the sweetness overpowers most of the flavor.

The only saving grace is the slightly acidic orange which cuts the sweetness in the aftertaste just a tiny notch down. If it wasn't for that, I think the sweetness will be unbearable.


Like the Arctic Ice, there are 160 mg of caffeine in the can and just like it the rush comes in quick, the jitters are strong and the overall energy is just very rough. If you are using this for outdoor activities, it will work great, however, if you need the energy for concentration, I would suggest to get something else with less sugar and a bit more refined energy delivery method.

Cost - $3
Taste - 7.5/10
Energy - 8/10

Overall - 15.5/20...sooo very sweet